Woman as Place
The art piece Woman as Place is a interactive game made by artist Angela Washko which features over 200 postcards from around the world and from 23 states throughout the US. Upon entering the game made using Twine the user is given an option of text choices questioning what is going on or simply jumping right in and being sent through a portal to complete the journey that is promised at the start through the text . Once a viewer has started the journey they are given a list of sites to specifically choose from and a map that sometimes sends you to a random location in the world. The user goes throughout the world clicking on locales in order to see the representations of women and places as depicted on postcards collected from the various locations. Once a site has been chosen either from the list of location names or the map, a message shows the number of sites ‘worth’ seeing which is the number of postcards that are in the collection from that country or state.
By showing the various portrayals of women on postcards, the piece looks at the interesting and often hyper-sexual depiction of women throughout the world. Putting both the extreme postcards, like the fat shaming cards from Florida, along with the older and more peaceful cards, like another card from Florida featuring a woman feeding a deer, the art displays the change in depictions over time as well as the cultural differences in how locations chose to represent themselves.
Gabby Bess explains the interactive piece, saying
“In All the Places You'll Go (Women as Place), artist Angela Washko demands the viewer consider, through a massive interactive collection of postcards from nearly every state in the US and from countries abroad, the limited ways women are depicted and used as regional commodities.” Bess,Gabby(2016, Jan. 29)'Come See Our Beautiful Ladies!' Collecting Women's Bodies on Postcards
In an interview the artist Angela Washko explained
“I was traveling a lot, and in every city I would go to I would look at the tourist shops.I would always be drawn to the postcards. I started noticing that, along with beautiful landscapes and landmarks, another category of cards was women as representations of destinations...I started realizing that a lot of very similar cards were in both places. These are places that are geographically on opposite coasts, and they're very different, but they were being represented in the same way.” Washko,Angela(2016, Jan. 29)'Come See Our Beautiful Ladies!' Collecting Women's Bodies on Postcards
The sheer number of postcards in Woman as Place gives plenty of examples to compare and contrast the women on postcards from all across the globe. This is very interesting as some cards are very different whether it be because of time or location differences, while others are extremely similar even though they are from two very separate locations like the beach clad women that can be found on either coast of the US. The collection of various postcard depictions makes us think not only about the portrayals of women but also the fact that these postcards were made in some attempt to attract people to the location. The idea of places being depicted by some of the more tasteless examples is very baffling. Postcards are used as souvenirs and whether they are sent or collected they are a representation of a place and travel around the world and are seen by many. Seeing the manner in which women are incorporated into the images of the places is a very intriguing and startling reflective look at how society views women. Whether it's the horrid fat shaming and hyper-sexual representations or the cards from earlier times depicting women working various jobs the representations of women evolve and change over time and across the world. Having this collection of the worst and best of this medium makes an archive that can be referenced for years to reflect on how things have changed, or not changed,as we move into the future and around the world.
In another piece titled Playing A Girl Washko asks players on World Of Warcraft about their definitions of feminism and why they choose to play as female characters and tries to discover the real truth about women in the online gaming world.This piece is similar to Angela Washko’s previous work in the sense that she looks further past how women are treated and depicted but searches for WHY. What she finds is a lot of men playing as female characters that when asked for a reason the vast majority of responses was that they enjoyed looking at the backside of a female rather than looking at a male. After this response Angela questions them as to whether or not they are attracted to their avatars the common answer was an outstanding no, and the players circle back on their reasoning and leaves the thought of if they are not attracted to the digital characters then why is the gender of their backsides so important to so many players.
The style in which the postcards are presented is similar to the clickable story line in Loaded 5x by Doug Aitken . Both allow the viewers to have a ‘control’ over the order and manner in which they view all the art and images present in the two pieces. The controlled freedom that is present in this format allows both artists to tell their story or showcase their collections in a manner that engages the viewers allows the meaning and purpose of both pieces to be experienced in a personal and intimate fashion.
Woman as Place can be found at